Yesterday Raiders 101 went through some of the Oakland Raiders wide receivers who are sure to see the field and make an impact. With Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, and Jacoby Ford all solidified a roster spot, today we will look at the rest of the receiving corps battling for roster spots and some game snaps.
Louis Murphy has been a contributing member of the Raiders receiving corps since he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Florida. He burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie making 34 catches for 521 yards and four touchdowns. He followed up his first year campaign with another productive year. As a second year player, Murphy caught 41 for 609 and two touchdowns. Because of all the exciting new talent the Raiders brought in through the draft, Murphy started only one game last season and caught just 15 passes. A hamstring injury has kept him out of some organized team activities and workouts, which has left his roster spot in jeopardy. Murphy must elevate his game during training camp and preseason games to remind the Raiders what he is capable of or possibly get released.
One of the reasons it would even be possible for the Raiders to release Murphy is because rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater have emerged during the offseason with outstanding showings. Criner was a fifth round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. In a short time with the Raiders, the 6-3, 220 pound receiver has shown the size, strength, and tremendous hands to be contributor for the Raiders. In college at Arizona, Criner had a season where he caught 73 balls for 1186 yards and eight touchdowns, proving his production ability. Criner has a great chance to make the Raiders and contribute to the offense.
Along with Criner, undrafted free agent Rod Streater out of Temple has really impressed the coaching staff during the offseason. When Denarius Moore hurt his hamstring during mandatory mini-camp, Streater filled in getting first team reps. The Raiders liked the 6-3, 200 pound receiver during the 2012 NFL Draft, but with only six picks and needs for depth at several positions, plus already drafting Criner, they were unable to select Streater in the sixth or seventh round. The team was fortunate when Streater selected to sign with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent. Because of his eye opening offseason, the worst case scenario for Streater seems like a spot of the practice squad. If during training camp and the preseason, the rookie takes steps back, he has already shown enough potential to be kept by the Raiders and looks like he is pushing to make the final 53 man roster.
“He’s caught the ball extremely well. He’s run very good routes,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said of Streater. “He knows how to get open. He’s been an explosive receiver and again, he’s still a young guy, so he’s still learning, he’s still making those young rookie mistakes, but from an athletic standpoint, from a skill set standpoint, he’s impressed.”
Between Heyward-Bey, Moore, Ford, Murphy, Criner, and Streater, these six receivers are in play for the final roster spots. That leaves intriguing wide receiver prospect Eddie McGee as a candidate for the practice squad again. The 6-4, 210 pound McGee is a former quarterback turned receiver who signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent and spent last season on the practice squad. This year looked like it could have been the year McGee broke out and made the roster, but an injury slowed his progression and the emergence of Criner and Streater have pushed him down the depth chart. Still McGee has enough potential to keep around on the practice squad in case injuries bite the Raiders receivers, but will need to prove his worth in preseason and training camp.
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